Explore Thailand officially the Kingdom of Thailand a country in Southeast Asia.
With astonishingly great food, a tropical climate, fascinating culture, majestic mountains and great beaches, Thailand is a magnet for travellers around the world, and quite rightly so.
Thailand is the country in Southeast Asia most visited by tourists, and for good reason. You can find almost anything here: thick jungle as green as can be, crystal blue waters that feel more like a warm bath than a swim in the ocean, and food that can curl your nose hairs while dancing across your taste buds. Exotic, yet safe; cheap, yet equipped with every modern amenity you need, there is something for every interest and every price bracket, from beach front backpacker bungalows to some of the best luxury hotels in the world. And despite the heavy flow of tourism, Thailand retains its quintessential Thai-ness, with a culture and history all its own and a carefree people famed for their smiles and their fun-seeking sanuk lifestyle. Many travellers come to Thailand and extend their stay well beyond their original plans and others never find a reason to leave. Whatever your cup of tea, they know how to make it in Thailand.
- Bangkok — Thailand’s bustling, frenetic capital, known among the Thai as Krung Thep
- Ayutthaya — a historical city, UNESCO World Heritage Site and old capital of Siam
- Chiang Mai— de facto capital of Northern Thailand and the heart of Lanna culture
- Chiang Rai — gateway to the Golden Triangle, ethnic minorities and mountain trekking
- Chumphon— gateway to the Chumphon Archipelago, Pathio’s unspoilt beaches & Ko Tao Island
- Kanchanaburi — home of the bridge over the River Kwai and numerous World War II museums
- Nakhon Ratchasima — largest city of the Isaan region
- Pattaya — one of the main tourist destinations, known for its nightlife
- Sukhothai — Thailand’s first capital, with amazing ruins still
- Surat Thani — home of the Srivijaya Empire, gateway to Ko Samui, Ko Pha Ngan, Ko Tao, and Khao Sok National Park
- Ko Chang — once a quiet island, now undergoing major tourism development
- Ko Lipe — small island in the middle of Tarutao National Park, amazingly unspoiled with great reefs and beaches
- Ko Pha Ngan — site of the famous Full Moon Party with miles of quiet coastline
- Ko Samet — the nearest island beach escape from Bangkok
- Ko Samui — comfortable, nature, and entertainment hippie hangout gone upmarket
- Ko Tao — known for its diving and nature, easily reached from Surat Thani or Chumphon by high speed catamaran
- Khao Lak — gateway to the Similan Islands, hard hit by the 2004 tsunami, but vibrant once more
- Khao Sok National Park — one of the most beautiful wildlife reserves in Thailand
- Khao Yai National Park — take a night time 4×4 safari spotting deer or visit the spectacular waterfalls
- Krabi Province — beach and watersports hub in the south, includes Ao Nang, Rai Leh, Ko Phi Phi and Ko Lanta
- Phuket — the original Thai paradise island, now very developed, but still with some beautiful beaches
- Khon Kaen — in the heart of Esaan (Isan) known for their silk and dinosaur sites.
- Mae Sot — a thriving multi-cultural border town, with lots of national parks around to explore
- Mae Sariang — small town life at the Thai Burmese border with trecking and Salween National Park
- Tarutao National Marine Park — Attractions of Tarutao, Ko Lipe, Ko Tarutao, Mo Lae Bay, Ao Son Bay, Ko Kai Tarutao National Marine Park
Thailand is largely tropical, so it’s hot and humid all year around with temperatures in the 28-35°C range, a degree of relief provided only in the mountains in the far north of Thailand.
Thailand’s people are largely indigenous, although there are significant minorities of ethnic Chinese and assimilated Thai-Chinese throughout the country, Muslims in the south near the Malaysian border and hill tribes such as the Karen and the Hmong in the north of the country. The overwhelmingly dominant religion (95%) is Theravada Buddhism, although there are adherents to Confucianism, Islam, Christianity and animist faiths.
Mainland Thai culture is heavily influenced by Buddhism. However, unlike the Buddhist countries of East Asia, Thailand’s Buddhists follow the Theravada school, which is arguably closer to its Indian roots and places a heavier emphasis on monasticism. Thai temples known as wats, resplendent with gold and easily identifiable with their ornate, multicolored, pointy roofs are ubiquitous and becoming an orange-robed monk for a short period, typically the three-month rainy season, is a common rite of passage for young Thai boys and men.
Thailand has a lot of holidays, mostly related to Buddhism and the monarchy. Nobody celebrates all of them, except for banks, which seem to be closed a lot.
The main international airports in Thailand are at Bangkok and Phuket, and both are well-served by intercontinental flights. Practically every airline that flies to Asia also flies into Bangkok, this means there are plenty of services and the competition on the routes helps to keep the ticket prices down.
Renting a car to explore on your own is a cost-effective way of getting off the beaten track, and avoids the constant hassle of haggling with local taxi or tuk-tuk drivers.
Driving your own car in Thailand is not for the faint-hearted, and many rental companies can supply drivers at a very reasonable price.
Most of the national companies can be found in Thailand together with some reputable local car rental companies, which are often a little cheaper. Cars can be rented without difficulty in many locations. It may be worth paying a little more than the absolute minimum to use one of the international franchises (eg Avis, Budget, and Hertz) to minimize the risk of hassles, and to ensure that any included insurance is actually worth something.
What to see. Best top attractions in Thailand.
A Thai temple is known as a wat. Usually a temple does not consist of one building, but is a collection of buildings, shrines and monuments enclosed by a wall. There are thousands of temples in Thailand, and nearly every town or village has at least one. The word “wat” literally means school, and the temple has been the only place where formal education took place for centuries. A typical Buddhist wat consists of the following structures:
- Bot — the holiest prayer room, usually only open to the monks. It is architecturally similar to the viharn, but is usually more heavily decorated and it has eight cornerstones to ward off evil. It is also known as the “ordination hall” as it is where the monks take their vows.
- Viharn — usually the busiest room in a wat, it is where the temple’s main Buddha image is and where people come to make offerings. It is open for everyone.
- Chedi or stupa — A tall bell-shaped structure that generally houses relics of the Buddha.
- Prang — a finger-like spire of Khmer and Ayutthayan origin that serves the same religious purpose as a chedi.
- Mondop — an open, square building with four arches and a pyramidal roof. It is often used to worship religious texts or objects.
- Sala — an open-sided pavilion that is used for relaxation and as a meeting place (and often used as a shelter for rain).
- Chofah — Bird-like decorations on the end of temple roofs. They are meant to represent the Garuda, a mythical creature that is half-bird, half-man.
- Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai in 3 days — three-day tour through undiscovered Northern Thailand
- Five days in the Golden Triangle — a five-day tour of the Golden Triangle region through Thailand, Laos and Myanmar
- Mae Hong Son Loop — the popular route right through the mountains of Mae Hong Son Province
- One day in Bangkok — if you have just one day to spare and want to catch a feel for the city
- One weekend in Bangkok — for attractions that only open in weekends
- Rattanakosin Tour — a quick tour along Bangkok’s famed historic district
- Yaowarat and Phahurat Tour — a full-day walking tour through this multicultural district
Pampering – outdoors – golf – boxing in Thailand
The official language of Thailand is Thai.
As Thailand has never been colonized, not many Thais can speak English, but since the 1980s many Thais have started to learn English. As of 2011, English is compulsory in most schools, and spoken in the larger cities, although in rural areas a little Thai will come in handy. Outside Bangkok, students learn English from age 13 and learn at the basic level, so very few people can speak English.
ATMs can be found in all cities and large towns, and international withdrawals are not a problem. When using a debit card, an ATM will typically provide a much better exchange rate than a money exchange counter, and this is especially the case if you have a card that does not charge a transaction fee for overseas withdrawals (becoming common in countries such as Australia). Since early 2009, there is a minimum 150 baht surcharge for use of foreign ATM cards in all banks. Yellow Ayudhya (Krungsri) ATM’s should be avoided. Not only do they charge 150 THB surcharge, the exchange rate can be poor.
Credit cards are widely accepted in the tourist industry, at larger tourist-oriented restaurants, shopping malls and grocery stores, and shops catering to tourists, but most local stores do not accept them.
Internet cafés are widespread and most are inexpensive. Prices are low and speed of connection is generally reasonable but many cafes close at midnight. If you plan to go online for a short time you should first ask if there is a minimum charge.
Official tourism websites of Thailand
For more information please visit the official government website: